It takes a special person to understand my sense of humor. It can be dry, sarcastic, witty, silly, and just plain bad. But when someone gets it, they get it. And since today is my birthday, I thought I’d share one of those comedic geniuses that you either get or you don’t.
Introducing Christopher Guest, or as he’s less well known, Christopher Haden-Guest, 5th Baron Haden-Guest. Yes, he really is a Baron. I know him best from his very brief stint on Saturday Night Live in the 1980s and as the other half of Jamie Lee Curtis.
It wasn’t until after that time that I discovered This is Spinal Tap, one of the all time greatest mockumentary films ever made. If you haven’t seen it, it follows a British hair band throughout the ups and downs of their tour. In it, you’ll find a glimpse of so many celebrities like Michael McKean (Lenny from Laverne & Shirley), Harry Shearer, Fred Willard, Paul Shaffer, Fran Drescher, and lots of other bit parts.
Admittedly, you have to have some vested interest in 80s hair bands and you probably need to see the movie more than once to get the genius of the deadpan humor.
From my very favorite scene: These go to eleven. It’s one louder.
It wasn’t until 1997 that Guest revived the mockumentary style (a term I’ve read he hates) with his film, Waiting for Guffman.
Guest leads the repertory cast as Corky St. Clair, a small town theatre director who “has used connections from his “Off-Off-Off-Off-Broadway” past to invite Mort Guffman, a Broadway producer, to critique” his latest show.
Again, this is basically one big inside joke if you’ve ever been part of the theatre scene (which I have) but it’s also entertaining in its own right. And we’re introduced to actors we’ll start to see in many of his films: Catherine O’Hara, Parker Posey, and Bob Balaban, along with several of his castmates from This is Spinal Tap.
Where Guest really made me a diehard fan was with the release of Best in Show, a behind-the-scenes look at the world of dog shows, dog trainers, and their handlers.
His ensemble cast really started to take shape here with the addition of Michael Hitchcock, Jane Lynch and Jennifer Coolidge.
There is nothing funnier than Parker Posey as a modern day yuppie with braces and a dog that needs therapy. Even though I’ve never been part of the dog show circuit, I got it. So hard.
But one of my all time favorite was A Mighty Wind, an underrated mockumentary of the folk music scene.
What did I love about this one? It might be the fact that I grew up with Peter, Paul, and Mary, and a mother that loved folk music. So I got this one. Every last bit of it.
If you’ve not seen any of Guest’s films, you have to understand what you’re getting into before you sit down to watch it. It may not be laugh-out-loud funny but it feels real and the realness is what makes it funny. Most of the films are, for the most part, largely unscripted. This is why his ensemble cast is so important. The Putting people together who know how to work a scene makes improv sound like well-acted dialogue.
If you’ve never had the chance to try out Guest’s sense of humor and filmmaking, Netflix is giving you a chance to watch his latest venture, Mascots. As the name implies, Guest dives in, mockumentary style, to the world and subculture of mascots. Yes, those mascots.
This latest film takes place in the ultra-competitive world of sports mascots where they compete for the most prestigious award in their field, the Gold Fluffy.
The Netflix original film stars Jane Lynch, Parker Posey, Fred Willard, Ed Begley, Jr., Christopher Moynihan, Don Lake, Brad Williams, Zach Woods, Chris O’Dowd, Susan Yeagley, Sarah Baker, Tom Bennett, Kerry Godliman, Bob Balaban, Jennifer Coolidge, Michael Hitchcock, Maria Blasucci, John Michael Higgins, and Jim Piddock. The film was written by Christopher Guest & Jim Piddock and produced by Karen Murphy.
The regulars are back along with new additions Zach Woods (Gabe from The Office), Susan Yeagley (married to Kevin Nealon), and Tom Bennett (new to me but I loved him).
I’ll admit that there were some laugh out loud moments for me. So much so that after I finished watching it late one night, I made my husband watch the whole thing with me again. I’m not sure if this was totally his type of movie but that’s okay. I still think Guest’s films are one louder.
This post was written as part of my role on the Netflix Stream Team. All topics and opinions are my own.